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Duke Basketball: Ranking the 5 Greatest Shots in Blue Devils History

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2013

Duke Basketball: Ranking the 5 Greatest Shots in Blue Devils History

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    Who took the greatest shot in Duke history? Who was the opponent in the greatest shot in Duke history?

    For a program with 2,001 wins, four national championships and 15 trips to the Final Four, there are a number of worthy candidates.

    What does it take to be considered one of the five greatest shots in Duke basketball history?

    The following list considers the implications of the game, the magnitude the shot had on the outcome of the game and the difficulty of the shot.

    A number of great shots were left off, but here are the five best.

5. Sean Dockery's Heave Against Virginia Tech

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    There wasn't a lot on the line when Duke and Virginia Tech opened conference play with a December game in Cameron Indoor Stadium in 2005.

    However, the Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time, and Virginia Tech was trying to earn respect in the ACC with a huge upset on the road.

    It looked like the Hokies would get the upset when Coleman Collins tipped in a missed shot with 1.6 seconds remaining to give Virginia Tech a 75-74 lead. Instead, Sean Dockery was the hero of the night for the Blue Devils as he knocked down a 40-foot shot from just inside half court as time expired.

    It was one of the most dramatic endings to a game in the history of Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Duke moved to 7-0 with the win.

4. Gene Banks' Buzzer-Beater on Senior Day Against UNC

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    Gene Banks capped off his impressive career at Duke in style on senior day against North Carolina in 1981.

    Sam Perkins had just given the Tar Heels a 58-56 lead by hitting two free throws with two seconds remaining, and Duke inbounded the ball to midcourt before calling a timeout with one second on the clock. Banks caught the inbounds pass out of the timeout and hit a jumper at the free-throw line to send the game to overtime.

    He was also the one to make the game-winning shot in overtime with 19 seconds remaining to give Duke the 66-65 victory.

    It was the perfect way to end the regular season for the Blue Devils and Mike Krzyzewski's first of many wins over North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

3. Austin Rivers' Buzzer-Beater at UNC

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    For all intents and purposes, this game was over. North Carolina had an 82-72 lead with 2:38 remaining, and it appeared the Blue Devils had run out of gas.

    Then came one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of Duke basketball.

    The Tar Heels began to miss free throws, and Duke began to knock down perimeter shots, setting the stage for Austin Rivers to deliver the final dagger with a three-point shot over Tyler Zeller as time expired to give the Blue Devils the 85-84 win.

    Pulling the upset on North Carolina's home floor and snapping the Heels' 31-game home winning streak made this win even sweeter for Duke.

    And no matter what fans think of Austin Rivers' time in Durham, he will always be part of Blue Devil lore with this shot.

2. Christian Laettner's Leaner Against Connecticut

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    This shot often gets overlooked because of another overtime shot Christian Laettner took in the NCAA tournament.

    However, this big jumper produced the same result—sending Duke to the Final Four.

    Laettner was a sophomore at the time, and Duke trailed by one point with 2.6 seconds remaining and its season on the line.

    After a timeout, Laettner passed the ball to Brian Davis and then stepped inbounds. Davis quickly got the ball back to Laettner, who took one dribble and launched a leaning 14-foot jump shot. The shot went through the net, punching Duke's ticket to its third consecutive Final Four.

    The experience also proved to be valuable for a similar situation Laettner would face later in his career.

1. The Shot

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    It's one of the most iconic moments in the history of college basketball and American sports.

    It's a shot that still angers Kentucky fans even though it happened over 20 years ago.

    Referred to by many as "The Shot," the 17-foot jumper by Christian Laettner as time expired gave Duke a 104-103 overtime victory and a spot in the 1992 Final Four, where the Blue Devils would eventually win their second consecutive national championship.

    Laettner had 2.1 seconds on the clock when he caught the 70-foot pass from Grant Hill. He used every bit of those 2.1 seconds to take one dribble and gather himself before turning and making the greatest shot in the history of Duke basketball.

    The crowd went crazy, Thomas Hill began crying, the Wildcats went home, and Laettner became an NCAA Tournament legend.

    What do you think are the five greatest shots in Duke history? Leave your list in the comments section below.

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